The IMarEST has responded to an inquiry into future uses of autonomous vehicles in the UK from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. The submission has been published and is available to read online or download (PDF).
The UK has the potential to become a world leader in developing, producing and deploying autonomous vehicles. The Committee will investigate the potential uses and benefits of autonomous vehicles in contexts such as road transport, farming and space exploration.
The IMarEST response has been prepared in consultation with the IMarEST membership and review by the Institute's Technical Leadership Board. The submission addresses 5 principle questions from a high level perspective and introduces topics as highlighted below.
- What are the potential applications for autonomous vehicles in the maritime sector? In the marine sector, autonomous vehicles are being developed on several scales, from small remotely operated subsea gliders to full-blown unmanned cargo ships. Applications are detailed and include applications within commercial shipping, naval and defence, oil and gas and offshore renewables and marine science sectors.
- What are the potential user benefits and disadvantages from the deployment of autonomous vehicles? The benefits include the removal of people from what is a harsh and dangerous environmental and to reduce the risk to human life in addition to being able to reach areas of the world not easily accessible (such as the very deep ocean). Disadvantages are discussed and include concerns over power, payload, speed, security and piracy
- Are further revisions needed to insurance, regulation and legislation in the UK to create an enabling environment for autonomous vehicles? The primary legislation required will be international legislation and this section provides details on the International Regulations for Prevention of Collision at Sea (COLREGS) and introduces codes of practice already in place
- What is the scale of the market opportunity for autonomous vehicles? A market assessment has been undertaken by the Marine Industries Leadership Council (MILC), and the total available market is estimated at £10-20m for ocean science, mine countermeasures and survey. However the global market for autonomy in traditional shipping is estimated at £136 billion with the UK Serviceable Available Market estimated at £13.6 billion over 15 years
- Will successful deployment of autonomous vehicles require changes to digital or physical infrastructure? Changes to physical and digital infrastructure are likely to be required and these are introduced in brief.